Adapting WDTK for Ireland
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Summary of the FOI Act in Ireland
- FOI Act allows users to request both personal and non-personal data
- Includes provisions for Publication Schemes
- Fees - significant charges apply for all requests for non-personal data (€15 up-front fee, €30 hourly fees for search/retrieval effort) plus extra charges for internal reviews (€75), appeals to OIC (€150). Discounts apply to Medical Card holders.
- Up-front payment is always required, usually by cheque or bankers order. Some public bodies allow on-line payment. Some authorities will request a deposit to cover in advance expected search/retrieval costs, and won't release information until the full fee is paid. The search fee is meant to be for voluminous requests, some authorities will waive these.
- The request can be made by email. It should specify that it is a request is made under the FOI Act, and that it is the preference of the requester to receive the information by email.
- Real names must be used, as the FOI request needs to consider personal information
- Exemptions to providing data exist, similar to UK FOI.
- Requesters can request an Internal Review, and appeals can then be made to the OIC
- Many contact details of the FOI Officers are listed here: http://www.foi.gov.ie/foi-officers
- Requests can be made in either English or Irish. Most tend to be in English
- Acknowledgements within 10 working days (ie excl Sat, Sun, IE public hols)
- Confirm or Deny within 20 working days, plus provision of the info
- Further 20 working days allowed under certain circumstances (eg for voluminous requests)
- Internal Reviews must take no longer than 15 working days
- Clock gets reset if the authority transfers the request to another public authority
- Clock doesn't start until initial fee is received
- Clock suspended pending payment/receipt of fees, then an additional 5 days allowed to process payment before information is released
- main legislation is the The European Communities (Access to Information on the Environment) Regulations 2007 (S.I. 133 of 2007). Also known as "AIE".
- Further information: http://www.environ.ie/en/AboutUs/AccesstoInformationontheEnvironment/
- As per the EIR in the UK, more authorities are captured under these regs than the FOI Act.
- No fee to make a request. Search/Retrieval charges can be made €21/hour. Fees usually waived if less than €10. Deposits can be taken. No fee for internal reviews. No fee for inspecting the information in situ.
- Requests need to state that they are being made under the AIE Regulations.
- Appeals are allowed to the Commissioner for Environmental Information, who is the same person as the OIC.
- A fee of €150 is charged for appeals to the CEI - http://www.oic.gov.ie/en/Temporary-AccesstoInformationontheEnvironment/CommissionerforEnvironmentalInformation/
- Time limits: 20 working days for requests, plus further 20 days for complex or voluminous requests. Internal reviews within 20 working days.
Main changes to WDTK required
- Country-based segregation of public authorities between the various legislations that apply to them (eg in searches, lists of authorities or requests, templates, on-screen text, help text etc).
- new time to comply calculations, including ability to "stop/start the clock" where applicable. This is especially required to allow for an interface with the fee process
- a need to additionally highlight that FOI requests in Ireland can carry significant costs (€15 per request + €30/hour search fees, €75 internal review, €150 OIC appeal).
- Legislation: FOI Act 1997 text as enacted, plus amendments http://www.foi.gov.ie/legislation
- Fees summary: http://www.oic.gov.ie/en/MakeanFOIRequest/Fees/
- Office of the Information Commissioner (OIC): http://www.oic.gov.ie/en/
- FOI Guidance site: http://www.foi.gov.ie/ (maintained by the Freedom Of Information Central Policy Unit in the Department of Finance)